Cernunnos is the first god I’ll be writing about here and I think it’s fair to start by saying why he’s first. And the answer to that boils down to two things: there seems to be the least historical information to report on him, and he really appeals to me.
The historical information is coming in a second, so I’ll try to be brief about why he appeals to me. He’s a god of the wild who is also, in some regards, a man. (A Google image search for him will reveal that he’s generally depicted as more human than in the card above.) It’s like he’s on the opposite side of some spectrum from me, where I am a man who still feels, in some regards, wild.
I’m not going to copy his Wikipedia article here. Suffice it to say that not much has survived to tell us about Cernunnos, except a few carvings (only one is labeled with his names) and the idea that the ‘horned god’ is an archetype that stretches across cultures.
What we think we know about Cernunnos seems to come from a reboot and rebranding of him in the founding of Wicca. There it seems his name was dusted off for a more generalized horned god that was intentionally compiled of bits from here and there.
This is where it gets hard, and interesting. Googling, it seems as though there are a lot of people who are actively worshipping Cernunnos, or at least seeking him. Here is what seems to be a defunct sect dedicated to him, with a lot of specific information on him, but without clear sources on where the material comes from.
In forums, you’ll find a lot about individual’s personal experiences with Cernunnos, which I will summarize in a few points that have stuck out in my mind.
First, there are reports that the experience of his presence is different in the city (where he’s more civilized) than when you seek him out in the wood / wild, where he is more, well, wild.
Second, he’s generally described as being experience as distilled masculinity, making him attractive to women and gay men. In some places, people thought that he was a god for gay men, because there are many who write about him online.
And that brings us to the last point, whether male or female, many people have alluded to astral sex. I know next to nothing about it, but it seems as though Cernunnos is a god that many people have slept with. . . in their dreams. I’m trying hard not to jump to any judgements about it, but I’m not far enough into paganism for me to consider it normal.
Cernunnos as Liminal Spirit
I asked Cernunnos to serve as the Gatekeeper in my Summer Solstice ritual. And, I believe that he did. I first realized that he was more than a tarot card when I was looking into possible Gatekeepers and found that he’s considered a liminal spirit (see the Druidic Dictionary), as he has one foot in the human world and one foot in the wild.
Google research shows that he’s pretty popular as a Gatekeeper.
So, where do I go from here? I have started ‘looking for him’ in the woods. It’s less an active searching as though he might be behind a tree, and more a matter of me spending some time in the woods without headphones, announcing to him that I am there, than I’m looking for him. And, on this trips, I try to have water with to offer. I really need to start taking birdseed with, as well, as that seems to be a bit more. . . tangible?
At any rate, he appeals to me and I’d like to ask him to continue serving as my Gatekeeper and I think that that’s going to require me to interact with him between rituals, as well.
This is an entry I made as I am trying to expand my Personal Pantheon. I genuinely expect — hope, even — that in a year this entry will be superceded by a more up-to-date understanding of Cernunnos.